Some time ago, Bob and I were planning to go to New York City to meet friends for a long weekend. We were trying to figure out what shows to see and decided on musicals. There were many to choose from, but one we knew immediately was definite—Jersey Boys. The four of us have been fans of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons forever and ever, so this musical was a no-brainer.
Our second choice was more interesting. We had heard for a while that our Naples friend Patty Baker was producing a Broadway musical titled Memphis. We knew Patty had been a producer of the big hit Blithe Spirit, but had not really heard any background on this show. Then I happened to see the cast of Memphis on the Today show in New York, and I was struck with all the energy involved in the singing and dancing. We didn’t make our choice, though, until another friend, Kristen Coury, producing artistic director of Naples’ own Gulfshore Playhouse, was in New York and saw Memphis. Afterwards, Kristen called, texted and e-mailed me to let us know that Memphis was the best musical she had ever seen. And when she returned to Naples, she brought a soundtrack CD with her so she could play all the music from the show and dance around her living room. That pretty much did it for us—our trip to New York City was planned … and we had fabulous tickets to both Jersey Boys and Memphis.
While in New York, we stayed at a wonderful and reasonably affordable hotel called The Lombardy on East 56th Street—truly a great find. We will stay there again when we go. We ate at some wonderful restaurants and walked, walked, walked all around Manhattan, including Wall Street, Soho and in and around Central Park. The highlight of the entire weekend, though, was seeing Jersey Boys and Memphis. And the biggest surprise was that Kristen Coury was correct; Memphis is the very best musical we have ever seen. We were beyond proud of Patty Baker and her help bringing this show to the New York stage. Memphis won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2010.
Now both shows have come to Southwest Florida. Jersey Boys will be at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, where it has played before, February 8-19. Memphis will be here for the first time and playing to a sold-out house at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts February 14-19. If you already have tickets, good for you. If you don’t, hopefully you will have the chance to see Memphis somewhere, sometime. Congrats, Patty, on bringing Memphis home to Naples.